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News/Business. (2012) Author Michael Hastings.

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Afghanistan 23, Iraq 10, Pentagon 10, Paris 9, Duncan 9, Vietnam 7, America 7, Mcchrystal 6, Us 6, Kandahar 6, Kabul 5, Washington 5, Michael Hastings 4, John Burns 3, David Petraeus 3, Karzai 3, Matt Tiabbi 2, George Casey 2, Dave Silverman 2, United States 2,
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  CSPAN    Q A    News/Business.  (2012)  
   Author Michael Hastings.  

    January 9, 2013
    6:00 - 7:00pm EST  

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war ii with purdue university professor. lectures and history saturday night at 8:00 and 10:00 eastern on c-span3. >> the house of representatives back in session next week. on tuesday at 10:00 a.m. eastern house members take turns reading the constitution on the house floor. the week after that senate reconvenes on tuesday january 22nd at 10:00 a.m. eastern. they will consider propieced changes l to the rules governorring the senate. they want to limit the use of the filibuster and change how the senate considers amendments. live coverage on c-span and the u.s. senate is live here on c-span2. ♪ ♪ c-span: this week on q & a rolling stone author discussing
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the new book "the operators: the wild and terrifying inside story of america's war in afghanistan" . c-span: michael, why did you call the book "the operators: the wild and terrifying inside story of america's war in afghanistan"? >> other than "the operators: the wild and terrifying inside story of america's war in afghanistan" is what special forces call themselves. they call themselves special forces operators. it refers to special operators. i thought everyone involved in the conflict from diplomatics to journalists to public relations people, to aid workers had a bit of an operator in there to people in the white house to people in the embassy in afghanistan. c-span: you total all the time you spent in iraq and afghanistan and the number of trip you made, what are the numbers? >> guest: a lot of time in disr a lot more time in iraq an afghanistan. for the book i did four trips to afghanistan. a good chunk of -- i think i spent four of my last five
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christmases or four of the last six christmases in either baghdad or kabul or around that time. it's been since 2005 i've been it's been my life. c-span: you're old? >> guest: i'm now 31. it's been a long decade. c-span: your college was? >> niu. yu c-span: studied what? >> guest: english to certify me to join the work force. my last semester at nyu work forking free to carry news international. glarn you say in your book that there are 27,000 working pr people in the pentagon spending $4.7 billion a year. 27,000? where do you get that number? >> guest: it's a number that includes -- it's a broader number not just sort of the
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propaganda folks. but advertising but everyone shaping the message from the pentagon. it goes from software programs and social media, there's been a recent example where the army is using a program that monitors how many times bradley manning is mentioned. the we can i can leeks -- wick key leeks -- that all branches of the military have. i mean, there are more i have thought about this. there are more public relations people on a general staff in kabul than reporters in kabul in afghanistan. c-span: do you ever ask why? >> guest: they need the help they can get. even with the message machine, they haven't been able to put too positive of a spin on it. c-span: you say i hate this war. did you hate the iraq war? >> guest: yes, yeah. c-span: did you hate afghanistan
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war? >> i learn to hate war in general. i mean, not -- it would be very difficult for me having been through a number of things with both these wars to be happy about any cop flict. someone invading your country or house. that's one thing. but the adventurism, i have a dark and dimmed view of it. it's made me -- in my experience all war does is destroy what we love, you know, destroys people, families, homes, destroys your memory. and it's very dark. the flip side of it there's this grand excitement to be involved in it. that's the operators. the operators in the sick and twisted way love war. i was talking to state department official recently and he was recalling his time in baghdad, and in 2006 the height of the sectarian violence he said it was magical.
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there's all sorts of conflicting feelings one has. when you're in these things. the stakes are as high as you are going to be. life and death. you feel like you are center of the feeling. hence the cover of the book the picture of a general with a pistol and a scotch glass in the other. it's intoxication. c-span: do you have a problem with the first publishers on this? [laughter] >> guest: they had a problem with me is probably the more ak accurate way to put it. i said i'm going write a book that is going to push the enhave envelope. they said that sounds great and i delivered the book then they lost their nerve. fortunately i'm now with blue rider press with an amazing editor who got the book, understood the book, and made it much better in my opinion. c-span: that's penguin. >> yeah..
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c-span: which is a big publishers. >> guest: yeah. they loved it. they were excited about it. and the publishers that penguin how should i put this without getting in some sort of legal trouble? essentially for this book, you needed a publisher going 110% behind you. i write about the most powerful people in the country. and i write about them unflattering light sometimes. if you are going to do that you need to have the support of. i didn't have that at the previous publishers. c-span: who was the first? >> guest: little brown. it was disappointing to see, you know, the sort of i don't know what they call it. gutlessness from them. but it worked out. i mean, it worked out better for me in the end. like i said david rosin that is the guy you want editing the book. diswhran what makes him so
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special? >> he worked with everybody. some of my idols, he worked with great people. his fingers prints on the major american non-fiction works in the past thirty years. he surprises me and sitting in the office and tell me i edited this guy and that guy and it happens to my favorite. c-span: what if your opinion is the partest you went about anybody or anything that makes people nervous? >> guest: my guess would be the most uncomfortable aspect of the book for some people would be my depiction of general david petraeus who has been wided regarded as a hero of the iraq war and afghanistan. and i offer very different picture from what one is accustom to when you read about him. c-span: like what? what do you say about him. >> guest: i quote some of his colleagues talking about him and
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the knock on general petraeus from his colleagues there's a lot of envy and truth in it. whenever general petraeus shows up and takes over an assignment he makes everyone before them look like an idiot. i use stronger language in the book using quotes from military generals. and his tactic which is pee leaves the dead dog on your doorstep every time. that's a powerful indictment of general petraeus' record from iraq when he was responsible for equipping and arming the iraq i can police and army a total disaster. this is the iraqi police ended up being the death squads. to this strategy in afghanistan which was in my mind a complete disaster. c-span: but, you know, you can see that person watching right
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now saying -- the young punk. he's 31 years old. you never sirched in the military. what do you know about warfare or anything that has to do with the military? >> guest, i mean, i can say that i record what i've seen and heard. "newsweek" spond correspondent for two years. my younger brother was a bronze star winning platoon leader. some ofsome of my best friends are in the military. i have personally suffered losed in the conflicts. you know, it's interesting -- my experience is forged on the street of iraq during the war sectarian fighting. seeing three four, two-star general act like cons. totally ignoring the reality in front them. i sat in briefings every day while the guy with two stars on
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the shoulder would tell us how great everything in iraq was while there were three car bombings waking me up every morning. i went down and interviewed the war lord in southern afghanistan, a guy human rights abuser and drug small smugglers who general petraeus endorsed. i'm unhappy -- people want to try to disparage me because i should be older or this or that, i i would say, you know, judge my work. if you don't like my work, you know, still buy a copy of the book. c-span: let me read you a -- "the wall street journal" and this particular the review section under the i think control of the editorial page. which is conservative. and the author of this review is a guy named mark moyer.
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who written a book question of command. i want to lay down the first paragraph and get you to put it in context. he says writing about your book. during the vietnam war the generation of david and neil transformed america's main stream media to a hot bed of anti-war and antimilitary. by a time a major war effort returned in 2003, that would be iraq, that generation had grown too old to visit the trenches allowing the emergence of generation x like reporters like dexter and george who are older than you are. one writes for the nighttimes and one for the new yorker who did not share the contempt for the military. most americans welcome the change not so for michael hastings as we learn in the "the operators: the wild and terrifying inside story of america's war in afghanistan" is a account in events from 2008 to 2011.
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he asserts the generational change drove him to write the runway general the "rolling stone" article of june 2010 that diewmed -- doomed the career of general stanley. is that true? >> guest: first bit of context there the "the wall street journal" failed to disclose that the reviewer is a consult assistant for the u.s. military who worked for general petraeus and cold well. they have chosen a military contractor who works with people who take a lot of money from them to review the book and didn't disclose it. when we are talking about journalistic ethics i would exhibit a whatnot to do. c-span: how do you know that? >> it's on the web page. there's a counterinsurgency company. i forget the exact name it. and i wrote a letter to the paul at the editorial page there, he did not see fit to run my letter pointing out the oversight.
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i think that to me was an eye-opening review for a lot of reasons. because i think he's right. i think terrorist a -- there's a major difference. and i think it is generational. i think this is what it is. sheehan and a number of other journalists in the 20s in vietnam, they saw this stuff firsthand. they sought disaster unfold firsthand. they got -- firsthand. they saw the horrors of the war firsthand. when they came back, they were able to sort of decipherer the bs and get through the spin machine they called it the great lying machine. and it was during the formative years when they were beginning to report. packer on the other hand, essentially made their pacer made his career off cheer leading for iraq war.
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and dexter, dexter is great reporting. i'm not -- i'm not -- but i think it's very easy to get sucked in to this military reporting culture where you give up a lot of your punch in order keep riding along with the boys in vietnam. c-span: in your book you talk about a lot of people including dave silverman, duncan, there's some others i'll mention. let me start downtown character. when can you start wanting to did the general mcchrist crystal article. what was the first time somebody suggested it to you? >> guest: honestly the first time i had the idea in 2005 in baghdad. i said, wouldn't it be interesting to do something with general casey. hang out in the command and get general george casey. i thought wouldn't it be interesting to get inside the
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command and do an embedded in the same way accustomed to doing it with the troops with the grunts the solder on the -- solider on the ground. there's a firsthand reporting what they are saying on the ground. capturing their ideosink sei. how they speak their fear, their love, their desire. all this experience war for the low level grunteds. and that seeds grew over the years, and i thought about trying do do a profile on general david petraeus. i would end up doing it anyway. i saw general mccrystal was getting very interesting coverage and i just sensed there was a bigger story there. reading between the lines of some other profile. that's what i wanted to do. generation -- one of my model by a "rolling stone" writer that was one my model to try to do a
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generation kill did to the marine and the humvee to capture that with the highest command. >> who wrote that? >> evan right. c-span: go back to the beginning. who did you call first? >> guest: the first person i called i sent an e-mail to duncan who is one of the character in the book who is the civilian public relations adviser as well as two other public affairs people. c-span: who were there? >> guest: cornel -- c-span: what did you ask? >> guest: i would love to do a profile of general mccrystal coming up on the year you've been in command. any access you can give me would be great. to assess the situation in afghanistan. c-span: did they know your background at "newsweek"? >> guest: i'm not -- i'm not sure exactly how familiar they were with my work.
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i know, i did not expect to get any access, actually. i really didn't. i just sort of whenever you do anything you make the call and ask. c-span: you're coming out of "rolling stone" magazine, define that? >> guest: "rolling stone" is fort years of kicking -- [laughter] trying not swear. it's forty years of rock and roll style journalist. kick down the doors, toss the hand grenade, expose the powerful. owned by one of the great legend in publishing and somebody that supported me 110%. c-span: what year was this? >> guest: when he founded it? c-span: no. when you approached him. >> guest: 2010. c-span: you're in the 20s then. >> guest: yeah. april this happened in april 2010 i think february around february or marming i went to
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the "rolling stone" officers and pitched them the story and then i went back to bag baghdad and got an e-mail and said write a more detailed pitch of the story. i did so, and then asked got in touch with mccrystal's people and went over to meet them in paris. c-span: we're in the early part of 2012, this was in 2010, right. how long from the time you got this idea to the time that general mccrystal was dismissed from the army? >> guest: i met up with probably three months about three-month period. c-span: why did they let you in? >> guest: i think the strategy -- it gets to public relations strategy that general petraeus had pioneered. it's something i like to call, i call it petraeus envy. all the generals are trying to do what he did so well which is to build up a fan based media
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which soarpts as a separate power structure to by pass traditional chain of command which gives him a lot of influence. he's been profiled by everybody. he's been on the cover of everything. and other generals look at that and say wow he plays the media game well. look at the advantages. he can do what he wants and push the agenda or policy he wants to push. i believe there was an attempt to create the sort of same hero status for general mccrystal to allow him to get away with more and create a separate power base within the media. c-span: why? >> guest: because then you can if he has drk, i mean, the concrete example happened during the strategic review which mccrystal and petraeus used the media and strategic leaks to the media to get the number of troops they wanted. c-span: when in the midst did the 60 minutes profile come
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out? >> guest: in the middle of the beginning of the controversy over the strategic review. there was a concerted campaign waged by friendly journalists, friendly think tankers who worked for mccrystal recently and they were sort of pushing this idea at the same time. it was a concerted deliberate and cautious campaign. c-span: thirty-second where he come from. >> guest: right. he started at west point his father was a general. kind of a wild man reputation. went in to the rangers and special forces community as he went through his career, then over the last decade, the war on terror decade mccrystal played one of the if not the most pivotal role in the worldwide counterterrorism agency. c-span: when did he get the four
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stars? >> guest: after the got the job in afghanistan in june 2009. c-span: before he went there where was he? >> guest: working for admiral mullen at the pentagon. c-span: he's connected a the top? >> guest: super connected. he was connected with rumsfeld and cheney and one offed a must recall's mullen's proto. -- c-span: you say in the book he's a democrat. >> guest: he's a democrat. he voted for obama. a liberal on social issues as well. they famously didn't have fox news in the headquarter. usually when you go to the military headquarter they have tv screens and have fox news on. he didn't. c-span: you say who is the fellow dave silverman? >> guest: a character.
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a navy seal who became one of general's most trusted right hand men, and very dynamic guy. very interesting guy. very entertaining guy, very accomplished individual. in fact now and dave had a great time hanging out with him on this trip, and now day silverman is the ceo of the mccrystal group which is his consulting firm he set up. c-span: you say in your book i've seen other places he's on the boards. >> guest: jetblue. he's offering training seminars for a lot of money. c-span: he got along pretty well. >> guest: $60 ,000 a speaking engagement and he has a book. c-span: go back to the moment who said yes you could come inside? >> guest: i got the e-mail
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from duncan and duncan said why don't you come over to paris where general mccrystal is going drum up support for the nato allies. he e-mails me then i e-mail my editor and said hey, you know, and he called and i said yeah can i go paris. my editor said get on the plane. by april 15, i had arrived in paris. c-span: 2010. >> guest: april 15, 2010. ai lived in paris, and walked to the hotel lobby, met general mccrystal for the first time and he looked at me and said, you're the "rolling stone" guy. i don't care about the article. i want to be on the cover. i said, well, i think it's between you and lady gaga. i was trying to make a joke not knowing she was going to be on the cover. >> he said put me and her in a
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heart shape tubbed. i said it's going a different kind of story. c-span: what happened next? >> guest: we went to the [inaudible] had kind of annan event and then the key moment came the next morning on the first briefings in the hotel room. it was the briefing where he at end started making fun of the vice president biden who is that in and one of the other top close confidence who became the most widely quoted piece in the story biden, did you say bite me? and everybody laughed. and this was in a briefing i was attending in front of ten to fifteen staffers. and i was -- again, i was like wow, it's an interesting bunch of guys. and how they're talking about the civilian leadership. c-span: did they ever say to you, i think this review implies -- do d they ever say to you this is off the record you
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cannot write about this? >> guest: two times general mccrystal asked me to keep stuff off. c-span: did you? >> guest: yes. and i honored the agreement. i said it in the book. the general attitude where they say it's free wheeling style we're not going tell you what to do write, kind of go for it. and so it's been interesting to see the response that general mccrystal and the allies had. i've been absolutely consistent from the minute the story broke to now explaining what happened. where they have changed their story a number of times first they apologized for their behaving representing to the behavior in the story. and said i overstepped ground rules. but couldn't define where it was. and lying to the "washington post" and other outlets making stuff up.
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then when the two subsequent pentagon investigations to the story, they all the sudden lost their memory and they couldn't remember who said what. but it was confirmed. they couldn't remember who said it. so there was -- they changed their story multitypical times -- multiple times. it's a new version he got out. c-span: you never implied to them you were gunning ho for the war in. >> no did you c-span: did you? >> guest: i told him i hate war. i have it on a recorded interview. i mean, and one of the funny things about it is when these guys are general mccrystal and the guys had the memory lapses. i was the one taking notes. i remember what was said. it was a big, you know, i think
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general from what i understand people close to him felt embarrassed. i think his dad felt embarrassed. they to push back. it's not uncommon if you write a hard-hitting story or a story people regret what they said for them to deny, evade what you just reported for various reasons. it wasn't uncommon. c-span: did you set out to get him? >> guest: no. i set out to write honestly about the war and put my viewpoint about the war out there and, you know, one of the strange things about it and why i didn't think i was going to get -- i ran numerous critical stories of the war in afghanistan that are readily available. i had been on the radio talking about my view on the war in afghanistan the war in iraq way before i had met them in paris. c-span: what is your general view of the military? >> guest: i think the military is necessary. obviously. there are a lot of great people
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doing an amazing job. a really difficult job. i think it's way too big. i think it's bloated. i think often we give the military a pass on a lot of things because of various, you know, guilt left over from vietnam and own guilt from not serving ourself. there's a lot of heros in the mill tear and -- military a lot of people that are less than heroes. it reminds me of the paul i'm going to mispronounce his name. who did what he was talking about "the greatest generation" and he said something like, you know, there a lot of drunks, you know, cooks and villains in "the greatest generation" as well. and that's, to me, that was a total paraphrase not an accurate quote. that's the idea, right, that what i'm opposed to is -- you know, the military and that
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upsets people, i think. but again, you know, i've spent the most -- member of the military in the situations. and i honestly, i don't think i have ever -- of any of the people who fought in the war who i have spoken to and reached tout me, they have never criticized my reporting, in fact a lot of them have said to me, it's self-serving for me to say. a lot said to me, this is what it's really like. and that to me is the greatest compliment. it the brass is upset and the think tankers in washington are upset. i feel like i've done my job. c-span: how long were you allowed to hang around the general and his stash? >> guest: off and on for a month from paris, berlin, kabul, kandahar, and back to washington. c-span: you got hear them in their imminent conversations
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about everything? >> guest: yes. c-span: there there was no restriction against you writing it down? >> guest: they did not put out any restrictions about that. in fact, later i would have this exchange with duncan the press guy about the other sort of kind of moment in the story where there's great bash, this huge party in paris where duncan would say, two months later, by the way, remember that night in paris, that was sort of off the record. which is like being, you know, slightly -- you know. c-span: they were clearly worried. >> guest: very worried about it. c-span: what dells he say in your presence or any of his staff that caused him trouble with the president of the united states? ..
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the idea was to show there is a bipartisan, serious national security pic which they felt for young president with no military experience what informed not just campaign people in that circle. it's interesting now the president had gotten way away from man and his national security team are close to visors. c-span: general jones, four-star marine, what did the other millipede for -- people say him? >> guest: they did not like
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general jones at all. c-span: why? >> guest: they basically said he was a clown and didn't understand what they were doing. c-span: how could you follow -- call a of four-star general a clown? >> guest: i have probably called a four-star general a clown in this interview. c-span: it's easy for people in the military. >> guest: i think this is the attitude -- good to be a navy s.e.a.l. you have to assume such a huge amount of risk and your whole life is one giant gamble, jumping out of planes, deep-sea diving. the craziest stuff. celebrates an attitude of the special forces the operators of attitude of you know kind of the cavalier disrespect for authority. and there is a lot of tension between the special forces in the regular military over the issues of attitude and kind of
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demeanor. c-span: here you are an april 6 ,-com,-com ma 2011, about a year ago. listen. >> i was shocked by the response, that in covering the wars in iraq and afghanistan for five years and usually no one cares. and i don't mean that ironically. it's just like there is this jaw-dropping stuff that comes out every week that's going on in iraq and afghanistan that leaves nary a dent in our public consciousness. my thinking at the time was i knew it was good material but my thinking was well, maybe it will be on cable for a couple of hours and then i will go on my merry way and write a book about my time with the crazy general. c-span: that is the george polk award and every time your name is now mentioned in the press, polk award-winning journalist michael hastings, i probably,
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999 people don't have any idea who george polk was or the award. why's that so important? >> guest: for me it was a great honor. the polk wart is the most prestigious award given to investigative journalist and so by then giving me that award gave the example -- stamp of approval for the journalism i did. there has been a lot of great journalists who i admire from before. c-span: is it fair to say the polk award winners are usually liberal journalists? >> guest: probably. most journalists i know are liberal. c-span: activist journalists? >> guest: activist people. c-span: would you consider yourself an activist? >> guest: no, i think any journalist worth his salt often has a real moralistic kind of righteousness to them somewhere
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in their soul and i think that is, we are going to protect and you talk in terms about yourself and it's like being the powerful and comforting the afflicted. c-span: where's your home? originally? >> guest: upstate new york. c-span: what was the family like? >> guest: the family was great. c-span: what a jerk parents to? >> guest: parents were doctors, my older brother and younger brother. my younger brother is in med school and my younger brother is in med school. c-span: both your mother and father father are doctors? what kind of doctors? >> guest: >> guest: my mother is an ophthalmologist and my dad is a cardiologist. c-span: do they have political points if you? >> guest: definitely. c-span: the same as yours? >> guest: no. my dad is a conservative republican and my mom had been
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traditionally a democrat so she has, the wars have pushed her towards the ralph nader, ron paul winning -- there is not a wing in the democratic party for. c-span: where did you get your intellectual start? where did you start thinking strongly about the war in and things like that? >> guest: when i was about five years old my dad would get to this army surplus store in the town of north banger which is 10 miles from the canadian border in upstate new york and i remember i bought an army flak jacket and helmet and i started, then we moved to montréal in canada for a couple of years. i had become obsessed with the vietnam war and argue to my classmates that america wanted to be in the war at the time i remember supporting that george h. w. bush, i guess i was 12
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years old and inactive seventh-grader, campaigning on h.w.'s behalf and it just sort of, telling my friends about vietnam and this and that. and then as a teenager i became fascinated by a lot of of the drug literature, sort of material and then as i had to get a job and wanted to write -- i knew i wanted to write at a pretty young age -- war again became something i started -- i was fascinated by indyk felt iraq was the biggest story of my generation and i think neal sheehan said, his advice to young journalist is find the biggest story and grab onto it. c-span: explain us. at the event, i think it's a same event, you are being interviewed by john barton who
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used to be a "new york times" reporter, a well-known reporter. there seems to be attention here. let's run this and explain this because he is establishment i guess and you are not. >> i don't mean for this to be contentious question that you think -- obviously you have created controversy among your colleagues. do you think it is fair to hang out with somebody over long period of time or even a short period of time and kind if you know go drinking with him? >> guest: i didn't drink with him. have you read "rolling stone"? [laughter] >> no, hang out with somebody and it appears with off-the-cuff comments. >> guest: they were not off-the-cuff comments. i'm going to contest every inaccurate thing you say.
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>> all right, jokes. i'm not saying they were irrelevant jokes. things people say that you know they enter. let me finish. do you think it's fair -- >> guest: i've heard this before, that's why no. >> do you think it's a larger portrait? c-span: what was going on there? >> guest: i remember as it was going on thinking wow this guy is a real piece of work. what is going on there? it's a good question. it's a really interesting question. essentially a journalist from "the new york times" is asking me when you are writing a profile should you try to capture the moments that revealed the people you're writing about character? i mean it took them 20 minutes to get to that but that was the question and my response is as a profile writer, you get at who these people are as characters,
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it goes off-the-cuff comments, those unguarded moments of what you are going for as a journalist and as a writer. the other point on the off-the-cuff comment is that those comments represented an attitude, cultural attitude under general mcchrystal staff which was being this -- master and the reason why that is significant is because that actually had real policy invocations. it set up a situation where they felt no compunction to essentially disobey what the president had asked him to do. the president had said, i do not want a decade-long nation-building commitment in afghanistan. general david petraeus gave the president a plan for a decade-long nation-building in afghanistan recently general mcchrystal said we are only 50% there in afghanistan. 10 more years.
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so, i have been, at first sort of the response to the gentleman there was somewhat perplexing and i was like oh they just don't get it but then i realized there was a much larger something at work and it wasn't about me and it wasn't about "rolling stone." it was about the nature of reporting on the military. when we call the pentagon press corps, you think oh it's this group that covers the pentagon in a watchdog role but in fact it's not. it's an extension of the pentagon who is promoting the pentagon as much as any pr firm would. i think they get paid more than a pr firm so for my friends at the pentagon you might want to look at that. c-span: how concerned are you in the future when you want to do a profile on somebody the dorsal the close quest. >> guest: i'm not concerned at
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all. c-span: why not? >> guest: because they think you are really dedicated to reporting. you find a way to get the story, you know? you find a way to get the story. c-span: once they knew that the story was going to run, they meaning the people around general mcchrystal, how tense was it? >> guest: i was back in vermont and i know duncan had told people, duncan the press of pfizer it said the people the story's going to be fun and it's going to end my career. c-span: did its? >> guest: he lost his job. c-span: he was a civilian. >> guest: i have said this before, think duncan sort of took a large, took a lot of the blame when in fact i think there was -- if people want to blame or take responsibility for it there was plenty to share.
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c-span: who else would take responsibility? >> guest: admiral smith, at the time public affairs guy. and i think at the end of the day and general mcchrystal to his credit noses at the end of the day, it was general mcchrystal's command. he was setting the tone for the entire bunch of guys. general mcchrystal is the ultimate operator and he set the tone for the rest of the operators that ran with him. c-span: were there any fact-checking that went on from "rolling stone" to the military because this article got closer? >> guest: yes, "rolling stone" is one of the few magazines left the does -- c-span: they were reading ] him? >> guest: no, they didn't read quotes back to them. that we usually wouldn't do. c-span: where were you when the article was actually first exposed to the public? >> guest: i was in kandahar working on a story about
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helicopter pilots, combat helicopter pilots and in fact i just arrived in kandahar in southern afghanistan and unlike usually a story comes out when the magazine decides to go on the internet or newsstand in this case a copy of the pdf was leaked to the "associated press." the "associated press" ran with the item from the story and then it snowballed from there. so before "the rolling stone" put it on the web site a think on tuesday but general mcchrystal had already lost his job before it arrived on the newsstands. c-span: what happened to you when you were there in the middle when the story came out? >> guest: it was a very intense experience. i was on the phone for 14 hours doing radio interviews, trying to get the story out of the
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helicopter pilots, when on a mission with a helicopter pilots while this is going on and watch the gunbattle that went on between the taliban and enforcement on the ground. i got the story and essentially i was -- i agreed with the public affairs people in kandahar that it was time for me to get out of kandahar and go back to kabul and eventually the united states. so it was a very intense experience for me and very strange. week got rocketed in kandahar and i'm trying to write a blogpost about general detritus and rockets, knocked the power out. i got on the first military flight and usually it's really hard to get on a military flight. this was pretty easy. they put me on a flight ready quickly and all the soldiers had copies printed out of the story. i had never seen anything like it. c-span: how did they treat you?
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>> guest: they treated me well. almost everyone, there were a few exceptions but most people in the military have always treated me with respect. c-span: what would you tell somebody that wanted to do the same thing you have done? i mean, what should they expect? talk some more about the reporters in the establishment for us and are the handmaidens of the military? >> guest: some probably are. some are. c-span: what about john byrne's? >> guest: john burns of "the new york times" came out after my story was released and said that i had permanently damaged the relationship between the media and the military. personally i think in that case, he is a pulitzer prize winner. this is a serious guy. when john burns comes out and attacks your work, it's not something -- it's something someone takes
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very lightly, this is a pretty serious thing. c-span: would it be think you had done wrong? >> guest: it was interesting, i have learned subsequently that burns hung around the general before and had heard some very newsworthy things and didn't report them. first he wrote the blog in 2004 with general george casey. he wrote a blogpost where he said that casey, general casey 72,004, do you think we can win in iraq lacks expressing doubts about the iraq war in john burns had the commanding general of iraq expressing grave doubts about the war and did not report it, and kc stating command for 18 more months. c-span: do you know that for sure? >> guest: he wrote it in "the new york times" and in another instance, burns was hanging out with petraeus and petraeus had
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actually quit, and i guess this was in baghdad. i think he had his own sort of values about why he didn't do it. c-span: you at. c-span: you at the same time talked about the white house correspondents' dinner and i want to run that clip and again talk about how you see journalists relating to people in power. >> "rolling stone" has -- in my view they have been doing great stuff with matt tiabbi and dickinson and a number of other journalists that i could list off in one of their functions is to not have to worry about things like that. we are able to go there, because we don't have a table at the white house correspondents' dinner. that i think also one of the things is that i talk to people and they talk to me not
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sometimes because they want to and not because they like me are like my stuff. they talk to me because they know it's in their interest to say okay oh it's that guy. we better respond to a scheme now and tell him to go have a nice day. c-span: you mentioned the white house correspondents' dinner and the reason i brought that up is because we covered all the time and you have never been? would you go? >> guest: probably, just because i mean, it would be tough -- would i go? that is a great question. i don't know. always to go see something i haven't seen before but that also is counterbalanced by something i have never been too comfortable with in washington. i have lived here twice now and i just don't get into that scene. i just don't get into that seem.
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c-span: you mentioned matt tiabbi with "the rolling stone" and his father works for nbc. is this a generational thing we are seeing happen between your generation and people that are a lot older? >> guest: map is incredible and the reason i wanted to write for "the rolling stone" because matt was there and i felt matt was doing incredible work with tim dickinson and a number of other journalists there. i think there is a generation -- there's a generational split in journalism and across the media as well and it can be divided between those who get it and those who don't. c-span: what is it that you are getting that the others don't? >> guest: this is off the topic of the book but in my view i have witnessed a number of major media figures who were taken totally by surprise by the social media, by the internet, by the rapid change in the media landscape and they don't know
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how to adapt to it and they have failed to adapt again and again. i witnessed "newsweek" go from having 20 correspondents when i started when i was 22 to be sold for a dollar and having to foreign correspondents. i witnessed a serious, serious failures to understand. so i think you have that side of it and then i think in terms of actual reporting, i think a guy like someone, like myself, you know or math i think does this and i try to, like i said, pushing the envelope further. what can you say? how can you say at? how can you say it in a way that you are going to get people to read it, that is accurate. the great thing about matt and "the rolling stone" in general is that it's reporting.
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it's not an history. all these others say we need to do more opinions and "rolling stone" is invested in its reporting and it's paid off. and matt bass criticism is based in his reporting. the reporting a solid. c-span: you wrote a book a couple of years ago about a woman that you lost in iraq. a girlfriend? >> guest: yes. c-span: when did she die and how did she die? >> guest: she died on january 17, 2007. she was working for the national democratic institute in baghdad and she was ambushed. her convoy was ambushed while she was leaving the iraqi headquarters and al qaeda in iraq took responsibility for. as a side note, the vice president has an arrest warrant out for him. it is hashemi's group that was involved in her killing. c-span: how did that first book
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go? >> guest: i wrote it in, i was so screwed up when i wrote that vote. it was a love letter to her, my final love letter and i felt it was the best way i could honor her. i was angry. i was really angry and it was raw and it was angry. it was about young love, about being in a relationship in your 20s, very strange time in having this very unique relationship where the person you are in love with decides to come over to baghdad and join you and take a job there. c-span: you have since married? >> guest: yes, i am very fortunate. c-span: where did you meet her? >> guest: she have also actually been in iraq and my aunt and uncle -- my aunt and uncle said you have to meet this girl. she just came from iraq, working
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for the government and they introduced us in washington d.c.. it was years before we started seeing each other. c-span: how long have you been married? >> guest: you are putting me on the spot here. i got married in may. c-span: is it hard for somebody like your wife to go back and read this book about this woman that was killed? >> guest: we don't really talk about it. my wife is an amazing woman and you know, she understands that was part of my life. and it's a part of my life that made me who i am today, and i feel very fortunate that i could find someone else who loves me as much as she does and i was able to love her. i didn't know if i was ever going to be able to be in a relationship again. c-span: did she read the book? >> guest: yes, just when we
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were friends. c-span: so, i mean you said yourself some of the journalists today blame you for the relationship with the journalists in the future with the military. do you think that's accurate? >> guest: i think that's nonsense. it's overblown. and the other thing i would say, what is our relationship with the military gaining us over the past few years? i would say not very much, you know. this idea that oh media military relationship is destroyed because of "the rolling stone" story is pretty crazy. the other thing i think that has been a healthy democracy, you know he probably want this media and the military relationship to be strained. again, the deck is stacked against us. 27,000 pentagon employees
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working on $4.6 billion in what is the budget of all the couple euros and the budget of all the baghdad euros to work? it is dwarfed by the pentagon message is pushing out, dwarfs -- c-span: do we know as americans, reading the american media or any video what actually has happened in iraq and afghanistan? >> guest: i think actually we do. the guys on the ground generally do a pretty good job and have done an amazing job in difficult circumstances to get the story and if you are reading "the new york times," "the washington post," "the new yorker," the times, "newsweek," "the wall street journal" you get a sense on not the editorial page but if you read their actual reporting you get a sense of what's going on there. c-span: what would you say to young person and again we talked about the earlier event, want to do what you have done?
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>> guest: buckle up. c-span: what does that mean? >> guest: i think -- it's funny when people talk about michael hastings and who's going to write the next dispatch? you can do that. he wrote about vietnam and the classic book that all war correspondents love and there's all this talk about who is going to write the next six batches? in my view you write something original and something new and that is what you are going for so i would say any young reporter would be too you know, again go to the big story, always report the hell out of it and find your own voice. c-span: in this "wall street
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journal" mark moyer, you say mr. moyer has worked for the military. near the end of the piece for the review and the date on the review by the way was january the fifth, you write like david halberstam, mr. hastings embodies the harm reporting causes to overseas interest. the firing of general mcchrystal removed the one american who enjoyed the confidence of afghan president hamid karzai and his part as on me. the chief of staff. what is your reaction to that? >> guest: it harms the situation. it's a revision in history. president karzai threatened to join the taliban twice while mcchrystal was in charge. threatened to join the taliban. and not only that, president
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karzai rejected mcchrystal's proposal because of the strategy and you can't really point to anything concrete about what my crystal's relationship gain from karzai. is just kind of oh mcchrystal got along with him. what did he get at? nothing. c-span: the book is called "the operators" in the subtitle is the wild and terrifying inside story of america's war in afghanistan. our guest is michael hastings and we thank you. >> guest: thank you very much. for a dvd copy of this program call 1-877-662-7726. ..